Which Netflix plan is for you? If you’re signing up for Netflix, but don’t know how much you should spend on a subscription, we’ve got the answers you need.
We’ve come a long way from Netflix’s early days, when there was a single pricing plan for all of its users. Subscriber counts soared in 2020 during the pandemic, from 140 million paying subscribers using the TV streaming service in 2019 to roughly 209 million global paid memberships in Q2 2021. Netflix upped the prices for all but the cheapest plan in late 2019, which didn't seem to impact subscriber growth for the juggernaut at all. Bit it does mean the right plan for you might not be what it was a few years ago.
If you just want the cheapest entry point to Netflix – or don’t have the internet connection for high-resolution streaming – you won’t want to be paying the same as someone going all out on fancy 4K content. On the other hand, while you get access to the same library of titles for the cheapest plan, there are plenty of perks to upgrading to a more advanced subscription.
In this guide, we'll take you through the differences between Netflix's Basic, Standard and Premium plans – looking at how much each plan costs, the image quality on offer, and the number of screens you can stream to at once.
Netflix Plan FAQ
How much is Netflix?
Netflix has three plans with different pricing: Basic, Standard and Premium plans, and each plan comes with different costs, different levels of image quality, and availability on an increasing number of screens as you go up the ladder. If you just want a cheap plan, the basic option is quite affordable, at just $9 per month. But if you're looking for HD - or better yet, 4K and HDR - you'll have to look at the premium package. Read on for all the details.
Can I watch Netflix for free?
Most people don't realize that you can watch Netflix for free - for a little while, anyway. The first month of your subscription is technically a trial, meaning if you're interested solely in watching one show, you can do so as long as you do it quickly. That's technically not illegal, though certainly immoral. Pay for content if you watch it! And of course, if you want to keep going you'll need to start paying something.
Does Netflix have an annual plan?
Unfortunately, there's no way to subscribe to Netflix on a yearly basis. Each of the company's three subscription tiers - basic, standard and premium - is charged monthly.
Netflix Basic Plan: for the cost-conscious
You can’t go wrong with the Basic plan. At only £5.99 / $8.99 / AU$9.99 a month, it’s a steal for access to thousands of titles through the Netflix platform. You get unlimited access to the same Netflix movies, Netflix shows and the like as with the other plans – just with a few restrictions.
You don’t get HD or Ultra HD resolution on this plan, meaning that your laptop, phone or television won’t stream any higher than SD (standard definition). The most you’ll get is 640 x 480 pixels, which is about half the quality of HD (1,280 x 720) or a fifth of Ultra HD quality (3,840 x 2,160).
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A fair amount of Netflix content was filmed in SD – especially older titles like The Office (and Friends, before it left Netflix for good!). But HD is considered the standard for most new television produced today, so you will miss out on some of the final details and textures. Less of a problem on a smartphone or tablet, though you may see some fuzzy pixels when blown up to a 55-inch TV.
Basic also only lets you use stream to one screen at a time, though you can still make multiple user profiles on the one account.
Netflix Standard Plan: for the all-rounder
The Standard plan is a solid compromise between the three plans, and costs a sightly higher £9.99 / $13.99 / AU$15.99 per month, following a price hike in October of 2020. Neither too expensive, nor with too few perks, Standard plan is just right.
You can now watch titles in HD, which will be 720p for some titles (the minimum HD standard) and 1080p for others. Most titles on Netflix will benefit from HD viewing, though you’ll need a decent internet connection to run consistently in HD.
You can also stream to two screens at any one time, meaning your flatmate in the other room doesn’t have to pause The OA so you can catch up on Orange is the New Black.
Netflix Premium Plan: for families, or finer tastes
The Premium plan is the most expensive of the three, at £13.99 / $17.99 / AU$19.99 per month., and like Standard, it's about 2 dollars more per month following October 2020's price hike. Premium is a small increase over Standard per month, though it will add up over the course of a year.
The main draw here is Ultra HD streaming, meaning you can watch all the 4K-ready content on Netflix the way it was meant to be seen. Naturally if you don’t have a 4K TV or 4K monitor, this will be somewhat wasted on you, so make sure you have devices that are able to play the resolution of the plan you’re going for.
This plan also allows you to stream to a total four screens simultaneously: perfect for large families or crammed flat-shares, regardless of whether you can stream in 4K or not.
So, which Netflix plan should I get?
That answer’s down to you. If you won’t use Netflix much, or want to subscribe in tandem with some other streaming services, the Basic plan is a sensible bet to save some cash. But if you’re sharing with several users or care about the picture quality, the Standard and Premium plans aren’t much worse in terms of expense.
Keep in mind that your first month of Netflix is free, so you may want to trial your first choice – or all three – in that time to see what you can and can’t live without.
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Henry is a freelance technology journalist, and former News & Features Editor for TechRadar, where he specialized in home entertainment gadgets such as TVs, projectors, soundbars, and smart speakers. Other bylines include Edge, T3, iMore, GamesRadar, NBC News, Healthline, and The Times.